The Five Things That College Basketball Needs to Change

It\’s been a long time since I\’ve written a long post listing my complaints. And with March Madness unofficially kicking off this week with the major conference tournaments, I feel that the time is now to roll it out.

I love college basketball. The student section jumping up and down. Rushing the court after a win over a rival or an upset over a top 5 team. The sheer joy of the game-winning jumper to knock off a #3 seed in the first round. The one-and-one free throw situation. Representing your school amongst your conference to try and become one of the nation\’s elite teams. Duke losing.

But as with every sport there are some things that just irk me. After the jump, the list of five things that need to be changed in COLLEGE BASKETBALL BABY!!!!!! Er… YEAH!

1. The possession arrow has to go.

Imagine the score is 77-76 with 5 seconds left. Your team is trying to steal the inbounds pass and get one final chance to win the game. The player on your team gets his hand on the ball and tries to wrestle it away from the other team\’s player. The referee blows his whistle. Could it be a travel? Okay if that\’s not it then it must be a jump ball! Awesome! There are still 2 seconds on the clock and your team gets one final chance! But wait, the possession arrow says it belongs to the other team! They can pretty much end the game now.

That is completely unfair to have a tie-up decided by an arrow at the scorers table that alternates for each held ball in a game. It defeats the purpose of the defense to try and get a tie-up to set up a jump ball at the location where it occurred. The NBA has it right. If two players have simultaneous possession of the ball, they will have a jump ball similar to the opening tip, and whoever wins it gets possession.

Take game 4 of the Suns/Lakers in 2006 for example. Steve Nash and (I believe) Luke Walton fought for the ball and a jump ball was called. The Lakers won the tip and Kobe Bryant hit the game-winning basket as time expired. If we had the possession arrow, the Lakers would have to hope it pointed their way or else they\’re screwed out of a chance to win.

Come on college basketball, dump the silly rule and start having 2 men jump for a ball thrown up in the air by the ref.

2. Reduce the number of TV timeouts to 3 per half.

As it stands there are 4 \”TV timeouts\” for each half of basketball. The under-16 minutes, under-12, under-8, and under-4 make up the number of mandated times when the advertisers need to show you the Snuggy.

Another annoying thing about TV timeouts is the common \”commercial seconds before TV timeout\” ordeal that drives me mad. There\’s 16:03 left and the coach calls timeout. Commercial. Five seconds later there\’s a stoppage in play and the under-16 timeout. Commercial. I would not only eliminate commercials when a coach calls timeout within 45 seconds of the next scheduled TV timeout, but reduce the need for those commercials to 3 (under-15, under-10, under-5).

It really sucks if it\’s a fast-paced game.

If it is the Big Ten I\’d just air commercials the entire way because that may be more exciting.

3. Not everyone should make the conference tournament.

As much as the story of Georgia winning the SEC tournament last year was great considering the tornadoes that ripped through the Atlanta area was great, I am still against the idea of giving every team a shot at winning an automatic bid with the conference tournament.

What the conference tournament does is basically tell the bottomfeeders of the conference \”Hey, you may have sucked in regular season play with a 5-13 conference record….. but if you string together 4 wins in a row you get an automatic bid despite being 6 games under .500!\”. You\’re telling the teams like Oregon and DePaul that the regular season means absolutely nothing if you win 4 games in succession on a neutral court!

The conference tournament should consist of the teams in the top half of the standings (unless you\’re the Pac-10, meaning 6 will have to do), because that\’s usually where the bubble teams are. If we did it like that then Notre Dame and Georgetown, teams somehow \”on the bubble\”, are done. Finito. Toast.

If you make the regular season meaningful, it instills a sense of urgency for every team to finish in the top 6 or top 8. Finishing dead last but magically getting hot at the right time shouldn\’t earn you anything. Just for fun, here are some bubble teams that, had they been under my idea of finishing in the top half of the table would punch their ticket to the NIT or CBI instead of playing in the conference tourney:

  • Maryland
  • Virginia Tech
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Texas
  • Georgetown
  • Notre Dame

And you can\’t use the argument \”But if my team plays in the toughest conference in America it gives them an unfair advantage!\”. No, you have to WIN! Win and you get rewarded, lose and you go home. What is so difficult about that?

4. It\’s the NCAA Tournament, the NIT, or NOTHING.

You can\’t make everyone a winner. This isn\’t 1st grade soccer where the school district bans trophies and keeping score. This also isn\’t college football. We don\’t need 3 million bowl games just to appease the teams that got to 6 wins.

Last year we were introduced to the College Basketball Invitational, CBI for short. It\’s a 16 team tournament that picks whoever the NIT and NCAA Tournament deemed not good enough to play in their tourneys. It\’s sort of like getting the table scraps when you know the dinner was chicken. Just look at the pre-tournament records of some of the teams that were in last year\’s CBI:

  • Valparaiso (21-13)
  • UTEP (14-16)
  • Virginia (15-14)
  • Washington (16-16)

Pathetic. But wait! We\’re getting a new tournament this year! Pushing it up to 3! It\’s the tournament \”will provide a second season for 16 deserving college basketball programs\”.

Why are we awarding mediocrity? You don\’t get a scholarship because you were a lifelong C- student! The only reason college basketball is turning into college football by providing umpteen tournaments is money for the schools and money from the (very little) attendance they get. The math says about 4 out of every 10 schools in Division I are going to a college basketball tournament, compared to the 1 out of every 3 you would get with the NIT.

No need to mess with tradition of 2 tournaments. Just because you won more games than you lost doesn\’t mean you get to play in the post-season, just ask the teams in the NBA\’s Western Conference and the New England Patriots.

And finally…….

5. The Big Ten shot clock must be reduced to 10 seconds and the rim size needs to be tripled.

It\’s not a big secret that I absolutely cannot stand watching Big Ten basketball. I can barely stand looking at the scores on CBS Sports the next day! I dare you to watch 1 Big Ten game and you\’ll be longing for C-Span for excitement. I can appreciate good defense and grind-it-out games, but it is never the sole reason that so many Big Ten games are remarkably boring and low-scoring. We just had a game end 38-33! Northwestern scored 15 points in the first half in their loss to Ohio State. Here are the points-per-game on average by every team in the Big Ten:

  • 1. Michigan State – 72.2 points.
  • 2. Purdue – 69.3 points.
  • 3. Michigan – 67.5 points
  • 4. Minnesota – 66.8 points.
  • 5. Ohio State – 66.6 points
  • 6. Penn State – 66 points
  • 7. Illinois – 65 points
  • 8. Wisconsin – 64.6 points
  • 9. Northwestern – 64 points
  • 10. Iowa – 60.7 points
  • 11. Illinois – 60.4 points

To put that in perspective, Michigan State is the tops in scoring in the conference but are 101st in the nation. Purdue is 2nd at 148th.

But I\’m not going to sit here and complain. I\’m going to make a suggestion!

Most of the Big Ten\’s problem with scoring has to do with the lack of a fast-tempo offense. The philosophy of slowing the game down makes the league uninteresting and just woeful to watch. I\’m demanding that the NCAA make the Big Ten the most exciting! The shot clock will always be at 10 seconds, meaning we\’ll be turning back the clock to the days of Loyola Marymount in 1990.

I\’ve thought this through my dear readers. I understand that the best shooting team in the conference is 60th (Illinois) in the nation, so I also propose that the circumference of the rim should be tripled so we could have  these gigantic nets that makes sure they score.

It will make the Big Ten remotely compelling to watch at the expense of insomniacs.

Come on NCAA, make this happen. Especially #5, because if that happens then I know it will be safe to watch basketball every week on ESPN. I\’ve got the Madness in me and those five things are the viruses trying to get it out of my system.

EDIT: There is one more thing I wanted to mention, and that is when a team calls timeout in the dying seconds of a close game, they should be able to advance the ball to half-court. Because hitting the go-ahead bucket with 1.3 left in college basketball means you are nearly guaranteed a win, because the other team has to go the full length of the court.

I decided against it because that would result in no more Tyus Edney coast-to-coast drives and no more Hail Mary passes to Christian Laettner.


9 thoughts on “The Five Things That College Basketball Needs to Change

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  2. JFein

    To refute your argument about the conference tournament, look at the Big 10 standings. That whole conference except for the low bottom feeders (Iowa and Indiana), is all bunched right up next to each other.

    And I can assure you that DePaul will not win 5 games in 5 days. And I actually like it when a Georgia team sucks all year, gets hot at the right time, and wins the conference tournament. It provides drama in the Big Dance (see Georgia vs. Xavier from last year’s tourney), the hot team vs. the powerhouse. That was a heck of a game.

    Sadly, though, I think you will have to do more with the Big 10 than just lessen the shot clock and make the rim 3 times wider. That still will only give the teams an average score in the 60s. ;-)

    1. Mookie Post author

      I will follow that by using a quote I made later in the post:

      Just because you won more games than you lost doesn’t mean you get to play in the post-season, just ask the teams in the NBA’s Western Conference and the New England Patriots.

      Here’s an example.

      Minnesota was once ranked #24 and beat Louisville and they ended up collapsing and losing a must-win game against Michigan on Senior Day.

      Now just because they failed to make the conference tournament doesn’t necessarily mean they miss the NCAA Tournament altogether. If they produced good enough results against let’s say the RPI top 100 then the committee should consider them.

      But they’re 4-8 in their last 12 against the RPI top 100 and have lost 5 in a row on the road in that span.

      They realistically have had 3 quality wins since beating Louisville, and they to me are not NCAA Tournament worthy anymore.

      With that inexcusable loss to Michigan they would’ve been in 6th place while Wisconsin would be out of the Big Ten tournament. What that game did was give Michigan a 2nd life while assuring Wisconsin’s fate.

      You PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! ‘Cause if you don’t, then no matter what conference you are in, you’re out.

      1. JFein

        Right now DePaul is making me look rather dumb. The Big 10 is going to get so many more teams in the tournament that it will be beyond humerous. They’ll get them, but it won’t be right.

        You do play to win the game, I’m just saying that when sucky regular season teams get hot and win the conference tourney, it makes for a compelling game in the NCAAs.

        1. Mookie Post author

          DePaul and St. John’s have pulled off upsets today.

          Big 10 isn’t a bad conference. Just so boring that I think it slows down the rotation of the planet.

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  4. James Craven

    How about we change the OVERTIME RULES?

    First, to prevent the parade of fouls, clear the team fouls total after the end of the second half if the game is tied, and wipe out all time outs not used. Then, allow two team fouls per five-minute session, have a 1-and-1 penalty on the third, and a two-shoty foul on the fourth (and more0 team fouls, plus one 30-second time out per OT that does not carry over.

    1. Mookie Post author

      Yeah that could work because not cleaning everything out makes the OT session take a while.

      I’m generally fine with the OT rules in college basketball.

      Oh yeah, and for those wondering why I’ve got slashes next to my apostrophes in the post…. something screwed up and I don’t feel like checking through my entire post to delete them. :)

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